|Production||September 20, 1995–June 28, 2002|
|Assembly||Greer, South Carolina, United States (BMW US Mfg. Comp.)|
|Designer||Joji Nagashima (1992)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-Door Roadster
|Related||BMW 3 Series (E36)|
|Wheelbase||96.8 in (2,459 mm)|
|Length||158.5 in (4,026 mm)|
|Width||66.6 in (1,692 mm) (1996-1998)
68.5 in (1,740 mm) (1999-2002)
|Height||49.8 in (1,265 mm) (Roadster)
50.4 in (1,280 mm) (Coupe)
|Curb weight||2,557–2,976 lb (1,160–1,350 kg)|
The BMW Z3 was BMW's first mass produced mass market roadster, and was the first new BMW model to be manufactured in the United States. E36/7 refers to the roadster variant of the Z3 which was introduced in 1995, and E36/8 refers to the coupe variant of the Z3 which was released in 1999. The Z in Z1, Z3, Z4, Z8 stands for Zukunft, which is German for future. The BMW Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995 and made a short appearance in the James Bond movie GoldenEye on November 17, 1995. Karen Sortio was responsible for the campaign, and sales of the Z3 spiked as the film sat at number one at the Box Office. In the 1996 production run, more than 15,000 roadsters were sold out by the time the car was introduced. A facelift for the car was introduced in 2000, and the Z3 ended production in 2002 when it was replaced by the BMW Z4.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Engines and Model Lineup
- 3 Special Models
- 4 Model Updates
- 5 Awards
- 6 References
The E36/7 (roadster) Z3 went under development in 1991 under Dr. Burkhard Göschel for 38 months. The exterior was designed by Joji Nagashima of the BMW Design Team in July 1992, which was then frozen in 1993 to be developed into the E36 platform to production in September 1995. The rear semi-trailing arm suspension was used from the BMW E30, and not the E36. Design patents were filed on April 2, 1994 in Germany and in September 27, 1994 in the US.
Production for facelift Z3 models was from April 1999 as a 2000 model year. The facelift included new engines and cosmetic changes, but did not apply on Z3M models which only featured a few changes and a different engine as well. Upon release, the Z3 was not up to many buyer's expectations as the interior were not as up to standard of other BMW models, and the plastic rear window did not compare well with the glass unit found on the cheaper Mazda MX5 (Mazda Miata). The facelift included updated and higher quality materials to try and solve this issue.
Engines and Model Lineup
All 4 cylinder powered Z3's featured one exhaust pipe and a normal body kit. All 6 cylinder powered Z3's featured 2 exhaust pipes together and flared wheel arches and a different front bumper. This does not include the Z3M which has quad exhausts and not two. Bostongrün, Montrealblau, Alpinweiss, Cosmosschwarz, Atalantablau, Dunkelgrün, Arktiksilber, Hellrot, Estorilblau, Dakargelb, Titansilber, Siennarot, Topasblau, Oxfordgrün II, Sterlinggrau, Saphirschwarz, Schwarz II were colours for the Z3 Roadster and Coupe.
Roadster (September 1995-2002)
The BMW E36/7 Z3 entered production in September 1995 as a 1996 model year, with the earliest engines being the 1.8 and 1.9l engines with a 2.8l engine joining the lineup in 1996. Z3's could be ordered with a hardtop roof which would snap on to mounting points.
The BMW E36/8 Z3 entered production sometime in 1999 with its controversial shooting brake design, often being referred to by critics as the breadbox. The Coupe version however featured a chassis stiffening hatch area, and only had 2.8l, 3.0l and 3.2 (Z3M) engines available.
1.8, 1.9l and 2.0l
Standard equipment includes a 5 speed manual gearbox, ABS, power steering, a driver airbag, electric mirrors, a one layer convertible top and 15” wheels. Optional extra’s include an automatic 4 speed gearbox (which was discontinued after 1998), automatic stability control, air conditioning, an electric operated convertible top, leather seats and 16” alloy wheels. In some countries, the interior had no leather. The 1.8 and 1.9l engines were only sold in Europe and some parts of Asia.
After the facelift, the 1.8l engine was removed and the 1.9l engine was replaced with a less powerful version producing less power. The 2.0l engine produced 10 more horsepower than the 1.9l engine, and featured 16” wheels as a standard feature instead of being an option. 1.8l engines featured 114hp and 168Nm of torque with a 0-60 time of around 10 seconds. Although the 1.8l engines were discontinued sometime in 2000, there were still some facelift Z3's that featured this engine.
The 2.2l engine was introduced into Z3’s in 2000 alongside the 3.0l engine which were both running inline 6 engines from the E46 3 Series. The 2.2l engine was sold in the US as well, but was badged as a Z3 2.3l. The 2.2l engine had 148hp and 190Nm of torque with a 0-60 time of 7-8 seconds and featured dual VANOS.
Standard equipment includes all standard features from the 1.8 and 1.9l engines, as well as a 25% limited slip differential, leather seats, an on-board computer, 16" wheels and automatic stability control. Optional extra's include a 4 speed automatic gearbox, air conditioning, sport seats, an electric roof, leather seats, and extended leather dashboard, a passenger side air bag and a M steering wheel.
For Coupe versions, a trunk storage net and a sunroof were optional extra’s as well. The car also featured Dual VANOS in 1999. After the facelift, the 2.8l engine was available for another year until production was ceased in June 2000, which was then replaced by the 3.0l engine. US models were sold under the 2.5 moniker instead of 2.8, but still producing the same amount of power like the 2.2l engine (which was badged as a 2.3 engine).
The 3.0l engine arrived into Z3’s with the 2.2l engine in early 2000. Both engines feature an inline 6 engine from the E46 3 Series, and were considered to be fairly reliable engines. Standard equipment was the same as the 2.0l engine (and not the 2.8l model), with optional extra’s including an on-board computer and 17” wheels.
The 3.0l engine produced 228hp and 280Nm of torque, which was a noticeable increase over the 2.8l engine. The 3.0l engine was also regarded as the most reliable and fun engine in the Z3 lineup, but sold less than the 2.8l engine in a 2 year period.
Sport Edition Models
The Sport Edition option was available to models with the 1.9, 2.2 and 3.0l engine, and cost around USD$3000. Models featured bigger and sportier 17” wheels, a slightly different front bumper, slightly lower springs, a brushed aluminium trim, a 3-colour stitched M steering wheel, and an illuminated M gear lever. All sport edition models came with sport seats, and are usually found with a bicolour interior. There is no such thing as a M package.
The Z3M is often referred to as the M Roadster or M Coupe and can be differentiated from the normal Z3. The differences include a more aerodynamic front bumper (with no foglights), a rear bumper designed to fit quad exhausts, temperature and oil gauges (in the centre console), a M sports steering wheel and gear lever, M seats and 17” M wheels. The mirrors are also designed to be more aerodynamic as well. The fins on Z3M models are different as well, with a chrome strip running through it. Z3M models did not receive cosmetic changes from the facelift, but the engine changed from a S50 to a S54 BMW engine and featured bigger brakes.
US versions have limited power to cope with US regulations, and US and Japan Z3 models also feature a square license plate holder. Optional extra’s include a chrome exterior package, Harmon Kardon sound and a CD changer. Bostongrün, Alpinweiss, Cosmosschwarz, Arktiksilber, Estorilblau, Dakargelb, Kyalami, Titansilber, Evergreen, Stahlgrau, Imolarot, Palmetto II, Oxfordgrün II, Phoenixgelb, Laguna Seca Blau, Saphirschwarz were available colours for the Z3M Roadster and Coupe.
|1.8l||1996-2000||1160kg (2557lbs)||M43B18||I4||1796cc||85kW/116PS/114 hp@5500||168Nm/124ft-lb@3900||121mph (194kmh)||10.1s|
|1.9l||1996-2002||1185kg (2612lbs)||M44B19||I4||1895cc||103kW/140PS/138 hp@6000||180Nm/133ft-lb@4300||127mph (205kmh)||9.1s|
|2.8l||1996-2000||1260kg (2778lbs)||M52B28||I6||2793cc||141kW/192PS/189hp@5300||275Nm/203ft-lb@3950||137mph (221kmh)||6.8s|
|Z3M||1997-2002||1350kg (2976lbs)||S50B32||I6||3201cc||236kW/321PS/316hp@7400||350Nm/258ft-lb@3250||155mph (250kmh)||5.2s|
|1.9l||1996-2002||1220kg (2690lbs)||M43B19||I4||1895cc||87kW/118PS/117hp@ 5500||180Nm/133 ft-lb@3900||122mph (196kmh)||10.0s|
|2.0l||1999-2000||1270kg (2800lbs)||M52B20TU||I6||1990cc||110kW/150PS/148hp@5900||190Nm/140ft-lb@3500||131mph (210kmh)||8.5s|
|2.2l||2000-2002||1280kg (2822lbs)||M54B22||I6||2171cc||125kW/170PS/168hp@6100||210Nm/155ft-lb@3500||139mph (224kmh)||7.6s|
|2.8l||1996-2000||1285kg (2833lbs)||M52B28TU||I6||2793cc||142kW/193PS/190hp@5300||280Nm/206 ft-lb@3500||137mph (221kmh)||6.6s|
|3.0l||2000-2002||1315kg (2899lbs)||M54B30||I6||2979cc||170kW/231PS/228hp@5900||300Nm/221ft-lb@3500||149mph (240kmh)||5.8s|
|Z3M||1997-2002||1350kg (2976lbs)||S54B32||I6||3246cc||239kW/325PS/320hp@7400||350Nm/258ft-lb@4900||155mph (250kmh)||5.1s|
|2.8l||1998-2000||1300kg (2866lbs)||M52B28||I6||2793cc||142kW/1932PS/190hp@5300||280Nm/206ft-lb@3950||144mph (231kmh)||6.5s|
|Z3M||1998-2002||1390kg (3064lbs)||S50B32||I6||3201cc||236kW/321PS/316hp@7400||350Nm/258ft-lb@3250||155mph (250kmh)||5.2s|
|3.0l||2000-2002||1330kg (2932lbs)||M54B30||I6||2979cc||170kW/231PS/228hp@5900||300Nm/221ft-lb@3500||155mph (250kmh)||5.8s|
|Z3M||1998-2002||1375kg (3031lbs)||S54B32||I6||3246cc||239kW/325PS/320hp@7400||350Nm/258ft-lb@4900||155mph (250kmh)||5.1s|
|Model||Pre/Facelift||Model Year||Production Units|
|Z3 1.8l Roadster||Pre-Facelift||1995-1998||29,509|
|Z3 1.9l Roadster||Pre-Facelift||1995-1998||76,063|
|Z3 1.9l Roadster||Facelift||1999||1,902|
|Z3 2.0l Roadster||Facelift||1999-2000||14,616|
|Z3 2.2l Roadster||Facelift||2000-2002||21,052|
|Z3 2.3l Roadster||Facelift (US)||1998-2000||22,282|
|Z3 2.5l Roadster||Facelift (US)||2000-2002||6,813|
|Z3 2.8l Roadster||Pre-Facelift||1996-1998||35,368|
|Z3 2.8l Roadster||Facelift||1998-2000||15,239|
|Z3 2.8l Coupe||Pre-Facelift||1997-2000||7,671|
|Z3 3.0l Roadster||Facelift||2000-2002||14,525|
|Z3 3.0l Coupe||Facelift||2000-2002||3,853|
|Z3M Roadster||Pre-Facelift (UK and US)||1997-2000||13,413|
|Z3M Roadster||Facelift (UK and US)||2001-2002||1,909|
|Z3M Coupe||Pre-Facelift (UK and US)||1998-2000||5,179|
|Z3M Coupe||Facelift (UK and US)||2001-2002||1,112|
|Total||279,273 and 17,815 (Coupe)|
|297,088 (1.8l LCI Engines Not Shown)|
007 Bond Edition
A blue BMW Z3 roadster prototype was provided for filming in late January 1995 at the Leavesden Aerodome for the James Bond movie GoldenEye. Karen Sortito was responsible for the campaign, and sales of the car spiked as the movie hit number one at the Box Office. More than 15,000 roadsters were sold out by the time the car was introduced for the 1996 production run, and the Z3 appeared briefly when Bond was driving in Cuba. The Z3's appearance in the film was controversial however, as it was the first non-British production car to appear in a Bond film, but the Z3 was also one of the few Bond cars that is not destroyed. In the movie, the car featured stinger missiles hidden behind the headlights, an emergency parachute braking system and a radar scanner in the form of a LCD screen in the dashboard. It is also noted during the briefing scene, that the car contains a passenger ejector seat and a self-destruct system.
A Bond 007 Z3 was available for purchase in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog for USD$35,000. BMW and Neiman Marcus had originally set a 20 unit sales goal, but was later increased to 100 units after receiving 100 orders. The BMW Z3 007 Edition featured a 007 dash plaque, a Hi-Fi system with a subwoofer and CD, a telephone, beige leather seats, 007 Bond floor mats, a wind deflector, special wheels and a wooden gear shifter, centre console and steering wheel. The exterior colour was called Bond Blue Gray. Buyers also had a choice of a manual or automatic transmission.
BMW M Coupe Millennium Edition
The BMW M Coupe Millennium Edition was made by BMW Technik in 2000 for Auto Motor Und Sport Magazine, and one example was made and could be obtained by a draw. The winner stated that he had won the contest, and could choose one of three colours for the car. The colours matched the interior colour, and chose a colour called Orangeblur. The car was up for sale in April 2015.
BMW V12 Z3M
The BMW V12 Z3M featured a V12 engine borrowed from the 850i BMW 8 Series and had a 6 speed gearbox. Only one example was made and was developed by the BMW M division, and is in Kyalami Orange.
BMW Z3M Coupe Safety Car
The safety car variant of the Z3M Coupe was also produced by the BMW M division and produced 522hp. Like other BMW safety cars, it was produced to be the safety car in MotoGP, but was rarely used. It was up for sale in 2005.
Duessen Bayern Mystar
The Duessen Bayern Mystar was introduced in February 2002, by Japanese automobile brand and manufacturer Duessen Bayern who base their cars off other automobile brands. The Duessen Bayern Mystar was the company’s first car, with an exterior resembling the Mercedes 190SL and an interior from the BMW Z3.
|1995||Production of the BMW Z3 Roadster began in September 20 as a 1996 model year. The James Bond film GoldenEye is released on November 17 and features a Z3.|
|1996||Production of the E36 318i 3 Series (both cars were produced in the same plant) is suspended to focus on production of the Z3. Production of the 318i was then stopped in July.|
|1997||The 100,000th BMW Z3 comes off the assembly line on October 30.Traction Control became standard equipment and a 2.8 litre engine joined the lineup.|
|1998||Hardware for rollover bars became standard (roll bars remained an option). A wood trim and a power soft top were added as options and a Z3M roadster was introduced.|
|1999||Dual stage side airbags became standard equipment. A Z3(M) Coupe was introduced. Central locking locks the gas cap from April and the 2.8 litre engine received dual VANOS.|
|2000||All BMW Z3’s went through facelift and the Harmon Kardon audio was upgraded. BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control replaced automatic stability control (ASC).|
|2001||M52 and S52 cars changed to M54 and S52 engines. All BMW Z3M models featured a low tire pressure warning system. The 250,000th BMW Z3 comes off the assembly line in February.|
|2002||An in-dash CD player was made a standard feature and the last BMW Z3 comes off the assembly line in June 28, 2002.|
2000 Facelift (LCI)
Production for facelift models was implemented sometime in 1999 as a 2000 model year. The taillights are now more curved and rounded with the L-shape, and the trunk release button has an indent to place your finger when opening the trunk. The trunk also has a slightly different design to accommodate the L-shaped lights and the indent. The car also has a wider axle, although the wheel arches for all models are the same and are not flared out. The third brakelight on the trunk is now more upright and silver, and its top is covered by the colour paint of the car. The halo's in the headlights are now outlined with chrome, and the grill is slightly rounder and exposes less chrome.
The buttons in the centre console have been rearranged and the clock is placed in the centre instead of being in the side. The insulation for the convertible top also has three layers instead of one for better insulation and weather protection. Facelifted models could also have been ordered with optional side airbags, and can be seen if there are two separate panels of leather in the side of the door.
The BMW Z3 won the "Super Reggie" award for the best promotional marketing campaign of 1995
The BMW Z3 2.8 made Editor's Most Wanted Vehicle for 1999 (edmunds.com)
The BMW Z3 made European Car Magazine Grand Prix winner in 1999
The 2000 BMW Z3 2.3 made "The Best Overall Value of the Year" - "Base Sport" category winner by Intellichoice
The M Coupe/M Roadster made Car and Driver magazine's "Ten Best" list for 1999
"Design of the Year" award for the M Coupe in Automobile Magazine (1999)
The 2000 BMW M Coupe became Top Gear (TV) Best Driver's Car of the Year
Jalopnik's included the M Coupe in their "Best 10 Cars of the Decade" feature
The BMW M Coupe was chosen as one of "Hammond's Icons" by Top Gear in 2011
- Car and Driver 10Best
|« previous — BMW road car timeline, 1980s–present|
|Compact||1 Series||E82 / E88|
|E81 / E87||F20 / F21|
|2 Series||F22 / F23|
|BMW 3 Series Compact||E36/5||E46/5|
|Compact executive||3 Series||E21||E30||E36||E46||E90 / E91 / E92 / E93||F30 / F31 / F35|
|4 Series||F32 / F33 / F36|
|Executive||5 Series||E12||E28||E34||E39||E60 / E61||F10 / F11|
|Luxury||6 Series||E24||E63 / E64||F06 / F12 / F13|
|7 Series||E23||E32||E38||E65 / E66 / E67 / E68||F01 / F02 / F03 / F04|
|Roadster||Z Series||E30 (Z1)||E36/7 & E36/8 (Z3)||E85 / E86 (Z4)||E89 (Z4)|
|M||1 Series M||E82 M|
|M3||E30 M3||E36 M3||E46 M3||E90/92/93 M3||F80|
|M4||F82 / F83|
|M5||E28 M5||E34 M5||E39 M5||E60/61 M5||F10 M5|
|M6||E24 M635CSi/M6||E63/64 M6||F06/12/13 M6|
|M Roadster||E36/7 (Z3) M||E85 (Z4) M|
|M Coupé||E36/8 M Coupé||E86 M Coupé|
|Sports car||E26 (M1)||E52 (Z8)|
|X6||E71 / E72||F16|